The site contains the best tips, tricks and solutions to problems you may encounter. Secrets, life hacks, stories and everything related to life and relationships.

Bokeh from any side – how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone



Bokeh means interesting, beautiful blur. It can look like fog, which is located at the edges of the photo or in the background. The background is out of focus, while we can distinguish the outlines of colored circles, snowflakes, stars and other shapes on it.

As a result, you have the object (person) in the center of attention, since nothing superfluous around him distracts the viewer’s eyes, and an exquisite background that undoubtedly enlivens the frame.

Bokeh effect

Translated from Japanese, the word “bokeh” means blur, poor clarity or fog. Thus, the effect of bokeh is obtained when a short segment of the field of focus is used in the process of photography, and everything else remains out of focus. In many genres of photography, bokeh is the most important means of expressiveness in a photo. There is even a separate trend in artistic photography. It can be defined as photography with a shallow depth of field. Individual and group portraits against the background of point light sources are very expressive. The bokeh effect transforms the glowing points into foggy circles or polyhedrons of different colors. Getting bokeh with a camera is easy enough, but the most interesting expressive effects are achieved using a variety of techniques.

  • Aperture of the camera;
  • Using appropriate lenses;
  • Application of masks;
  • Using the resources of the photo editor.

Camera setup

What determines the effect of bokeh in photography? Usually, curly bokeh is created with special attachments for the lens, and sometimes it is enough to set the values ​​on the camera correctly to get the background blur.

Bokeh is largely dependent on the depth of space depicted in the image and the degree of sharpness of objects (DOF). In turn, the mentioned parameter is determined:

  1. Aperture: The more the aperture is open, the greater the percentage of blur in the frame.
  2. Focal Length: Longer focal lengths produce more noticeable bokeh. If you have a zoom lens, just rotate the ring.
  3. Distance to Subject: The closer you get, the more likely the desired “fog” will appear. Just keep in mind that for each lens there is the closest possible distance from which the camera can still adjust focus.
  4. Distance from the subject to the background. It is desirable that the subject is at least 1 meter away from the background. This will blur the background most beautifully.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

For bokeh, not only the camera setting is important, but also the initial aperture. With fast and usually expensive lenses, this ability to perceive light is much higher.

Portrait and macro lenses boast attractive blur. The first ones are made specifically for shooting people and making them stand out from the rest of the background, the second ones – for focusing on small objects and increasing their scale (insects, flowers, mechanisms, etc.). In such optics, it is a priori possible to set the maximum aperture open, which will enhance the impression of bokeh.

What do smartphones have?

Smartphones were less fortunate in terms of background blur, which prompted the manufacturers to be cunning.

Some, for example, use different lenses in multi-camera models, due to which they come close to entry-level cameras, but still fall short of amateur DSLRs.

To compensate for this, the remaining cameras are used to determine the depth in the frame.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone 

Such processing is also not without drawbacks – the program does not have a complete picture – at best about partial overlaps, at worst – objects lying on the same line between cameras do not allow determining the distance, and, as a consequence, transitions (from the focus area to the bokeh area) may not look natural. In multi-camera smartphones, the frame depth data for the algorithm is taken from the difference between the pictures from the cameras. If the contrast of the object is not enough, or, for example, if it is a pillar, and the smartphone’s cameras are located vertically, then such an object will be in line with the cameras and, as a result, the algorithm will define them as infinitely distant and smear them very much.

Other manufacturers use “stacking” – combining several photos with different focus. But in this case, already low-contrast objects confuse the algorithm.


This is my favorite, so let’s start with him. I would like to warn readers right away that in order to effectively blur the background in Snapseed, you will have to work, but it is this application that provides the widest functionality and the result will be the best here. Let’s try to walk through the process of creating a blurred background in any picture step by step.

  • Select the picture, press the “Edit” button (pencil in the lower right corner).
  • Go to Filters-Blur.
  • We select the desired shape of the filter (rectangle or circle), proceeding from the fact that the background should be completely blurred (this is important), the boundaries of the subject may also be slightly blurred, in the subsequent stages we will correct this.
  • We save by clicking the checkmark. A lazy user can stop at this stage, but we are not one of them, so we go further.
  • Select the revision history (middle button in the upper right corner).
  • Click “View changes”.
  • At the stage “Blur”, click on the arrow, and in the window that appears, “change” (central button).
  • The most difficult and interesting stage. We create a mask, gradually highlighting what needs to be blurred (or leave it clear, that’s how convenient it is). At the same time, we change the intensity of the blur, it is indicated as a percentage under the photo in the center.

By varying the intensity of the filter, you can achieve the most realistic result. For example, in the case of a pony, we brush the croup of the animal by 25% to convey the distance, with the same brush we go over the grass near the muzzle to avoid a sharp border.

Point Blur (Blurred Photos)

Perhaps the most adequate alternative to Snapseed. The application pleased with a pleasant modern interface and a rich set of tools. Here you can scale and move the picture (or you can disable it), flexibly adjust the blur, its intensity and type, change the thickness of the brush, and much more. The disadvantages include the non-obvious location of the eraser (nevertheless, step-by-step backward does not always help) and the inability to reduce the strength of the blur where it has already been done. For the convenience of the user, the program has a built-in simplest corrector of basic settings: brightness, contrast, saturation, etc. If handled skillfully, these options should be enough to create decent photographs.


The program, sharpened specifically for creating the bokeh effect, is quite famous and no longer new. The program copes with its tasks well, plus it has two blur modes: manual and automatic. The second works well only in ideal conditions, but with the first, although you have to get confused, the result will be excellent. I liked that there is a magnifier, which allows you to zoom in and more thoroughly process part of the image, the ability to save unfinished projects and the availability of flexible adjustment of the blur intensity. After creating the bokeh, the photo can be further processed: add vignetting, change the brightness, contrast, or apply one of the many filters. I did not like the design of the application: it is outdated and not always convenient.

DSLR Camera Effect Maker

The most concise app in our collection. In fact, there are only two options in it: either blur part of the photo or keep part of the photo clear. The bokeh effect is quite beautiful, but it can only be done perfectly on simple shapes, since there is no scaling here. You can change the thickness of the brush, but this is often not enough. Also, you can change the intensity of the blur, but this setting is applied only to the entire image as a whole, and not to individual parts of it. By the way, the test photo behaved strangely in the application: it turned 90 ゜ for no apparent reason.

Tadaa SLR

On iOS, there are fewer similar applications, but they are available and of good quality. For example, Tadaa SLR. In the program, you can quickly select the main subject of shooting, correct gaps in the selection, zoom in on a part of the picture and undo the last changes – this is the main set necessary for successful editing of images. The application also allows you to change the intensity and type of blur, has a set of filters for additional post-processing, is easy to use and nicely designed. It should be noted that the application is paid, its cost is approximately $ 5.

What affects the bokeh effect?

Since the aperture directly controls depth of field, it also controls bokeh in some respects – you get more pleasing bokeh at f / 1.8 than at f / 8, for example. In short, the shallower your depth of field, the better the bokeh will be. Therefore, everything from the focal length of your lens to the crop ratio of your sensor and the distance from the background will contribute to the effect as well.

Where and how to apply?

Blurring the backdrop works well for macro photography. By the way, on single cameras of smartphones with a large aperture, when photographing small objects at close range, you can also get this effect – it is achieved in this case in a natural way only due to the properties of optics.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Note also that matching the background assigned to the blur is not an easy creative task. Ideally, the background should become an organic part of the composition – for this, you need to take into account dark spots (visually “weigh down” one or another part of the photo) and build a picture with the same composition rules as the photo as a whole (for example, do not allow the “overbalance” only with the left or the right side of the picture).

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Beginners often like the “circles” effect in bokeh. You can achieve this by applying a blur to a background with many small light spots. It can be a night illumination with hundreds of small bulbs in the distance, rays of light shining through the foliage of a tree, or brightly lit water drops against some contrasting background. In the Honor 8 Pro, this is even easier to achieve, as when the background blur is set to maximum (aperture control at f / 0.95), the software automatically turns the brightest points of light in the background into many beautiful circles.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Pros often think over even such trifles as combining color spots in the background with the main subject in the frame. And they do it with the knowledge of color harmonies – the rules for combining color, akin to how chords are formed from notes.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

The color wheel will help you arm yourself with the knowledge of the simplest color harmonies (complementary, triad, similar) and use them when building your own compositions.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Finally, one of the most important uses of the dual camera with background blur effect is portrait photography. Dual-lens smartphones with software bokeh effect can blur the background when shooting a person up to the waist, while devices with a single photomodule can make bokeh at best for a hand with a glass or a flower. The Honor 8 Pro can shoot objects with a blurry background at a distance of up to two meters.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Even amateur-quality portraits with bokeh, as already mentioned, mimic the real perception of the human eye. It’s not surprising that we like them much more than any professional shots with a clear background.

Use the right shutter speed

When shooting bokeh, you will often notice that:

  • it is more interesting to shoot in the afternoon and at night, tk. more light sources appear;
  • it is better to use a telephoto lens to zoom in and increase bokeh.

In this case, both options indicate that there will be less light for correct exposure.
Even if bokeh translates to “blur,” you still want to get a sharp image without additional blur where you don’t need it.
Aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/160 sec.
Or, make sure that the rule for the ratio of shutter speed and focal length is respected. So that camera movement at the time of shooting does not add unnecessary blur.
Remember that you can always increase the ISO to achieve a faster shutter speed, which will prevent camera shake blur.

Getting the desired effect

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphonePhotographers know that by manipulating the aperture setting and focusing, you can change the depth of field on the camera. This is always used in macro photography and very often in portrait photography. When photographing objects of very small sizes with the camera, you need to keep in mind that everything extraneous in the frame distracts attention, violating the integrity of the composition. Therefore, macro photography with a camera is carried out at a very shallow depth of field. Due to this, only the main subject of the photo looks sharp and clear, and everything that is slightly behind is made foggy with blurred outlines. When shooting portraits with a SLR camera, the main emphasis is on the face, which also requires special emphasis, by reducing the sharpness of the background. A very original result is obtained, when light flares or objects of increased brightness fall into the out-of-focus area. You can use the following techniques to create bokeh photos:

  • Highlights should be far behind the subject or directly in front of the lens;
  • The distance between the light sources and the focal point should be as large as possible;
  • The camera should be equipped with lenses with the smallest possible aperture and long focal length. To obtain a spectacular bokeh, the camera is usually equipped with optics with an aperture of f / 1.4-2.8 and a FR of 70-200 mm.

Novice amateur photographers can even use cameras with kit lenses to get the desired bokeh effect. To do this, you need to set the maximum focal length on the camera and open the diaphragm completely. Depending on the type of lens, this can be 55 or 135 mm and the aperture f / 4-5.6. Next, you need to come as close as possible to the main object, while the background or light sources should be far behind this object, or exactly the opposite. The camera focuses on one central point. This technique produces quite a decent amount of blur. It turns out very effectively when shooting a city at night, illuminated by lights. Some photographers only shoot blurry objects using shop windows illuminated by multi-colored lights or festive illumination.

Watch out for transitions in the out-of-focus area

When you are shooting a subject in the foreground with strong background blur (or vice versa), be aware of the transition from sharpness to blur.
If the lights are blurred in the background, their size will change depending on the distance. Farther away lights will be more blurred, while closer ones will be less blurry.
Depending on your lens, this can lead to strange and ugly effects. This can lead to a lot of visual clutter in the frame as sharper and more blurred objects will blend in.
The problem can be solved by correct positioning of the subject and background. To get a sharp foreground that contrasts with equally blurry out-of-focus objects.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

With the help of improvised means

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphoneMany photographers who are serious about art photography often use a variety of aids. When mounted on the camera, they can produce interesting effects. For blurring, you can use the following materials:

  • Cellophane film;
  • Thick paper;
  • Aluminium foil;

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphoneCellophane or polyethylene film, attached directly to the camera lens, creates a blurred effect around the perimeter of the frame. To do this, it is not necessary to completely cover the camera lens. You can partially block the field of view or make a small hole in the center of the film. By experimenting with this technique and different types of lighting, you can get unique shots with varieties of the discussed effect. Camera lens attachments made of thick paper allow you to get a bokeh of a peculiar pattern. For this, a hole of a certain shape is cut in the material. It can be a star, an arrow, or any other shape. As a result, the blur of the light spot will look like a cut-out figure. To work with a homemade filter, you will have to adjust the size of the slot to the specific FR of the camera lens.

For home or pavilion portrait photography, ordinary aluminum food foil is suitable. It is slightly crumpled and glued to a flat surface with adhesive tape. To the left and right of this screen are multi-colored light sources oriented towards the crumpled foil. The result is a background with beautiful spots of color.

Shooting instruction

In automatic mode, it will be extremely inconvenient to shoot bokeh, and most likely impossible. Bright light will almost always force the camera to decrease the aperture to avoid overexposing the frame.
Personally, I only use fully manual mode when it comes to bokeh.
Aperture priority can also work well. Although it can cause some trouble due to the wrong choice of exposure.

Tips for creating a bokeh photo

Portrait photography is a separate art form that requires practice and experience. But to develop them, you need to know the important basics:

  • there are no ideal lenses, there is a background, an object, a distance to them and perfect shooting conditions at the desired distance, experiment with your technique;
  • blur works best when recreating an image with backlighting or an out-of-focus light source;
  • You can give your own shape to the glow using an ordinary piece of plastic and carved stars, hearts, trees and other shapes;
  • when creating a macro photo, use extension rings – the result will pleasantly surprise you;
  • if you want to give your photos a certain effect, choose apertures with a different number of blades;
  • when it is not possible to take a camera with a sufficient focal length, then give up photography in a confined space in favor of the territory;
  • the photographer and model must be in motion, moving closer to the subject or moving it away from the background – all this will create the perfect bokeh.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

These simple secrets will help you to take photos with highlights without using any photo editors. With a little effort and imagination, they can be supplemented with unusual shapes and elements.

Use a lens with a large aperture

This indicator is very important for high-quality portraits. The better the aperture opens, the more light will hit the matrix. This value will influence the size of the field of focus, making it easy to create blur in the background. Zoom optics are good if you are planning a photo of a beautiful landscape, panorama, but in the case of experiments in the style under study, it is better to use lenses with the maximum possible aperture. This bokeh shooting mode will work well with evening landscapes, the main thing is to choose locations so that the light source is out of focus.

When choosing a camera, you should buy it separately from the whole set. This is due to the fact that in most cases, weak or whale optics that are not capable of creating bright photos are included as standard. When buying a high-aperture optical system outside the package, the overpayment will not be very noticeable, but the result is obvious. You can try to find such devices from your hands, which will help you save money, but at the same time take high-quality equipment from a professional who can also suggest the peculiarities of working with the lens.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Shoot with aperture

It is on it that blur and fuzziness depend, and therefore the whole result. The number and position of the petals will affect the pattern. A large number of these details will bring the shape of the circles closer to a perfectly flat circle. At the same time, wide open, they will not affect her in any way. When shooting bokeh with bright discs, the flaps should not be fully open.

A lot also depends on the type of aperture:

  1. Rhombus. When creating a photo with such a lens, an interesting background pattern resembling pixels will come out.
  2. Mirror lens. Instead of full-fledged bright circles, there will be magic rings, or soap bubbles, who has enough imagination for that.

Thanks to such flaps, the effect of diffraction stars can be achieved. To obtain such images, 7 and 9-fold optical systems are required, and the light source must be in focus. Then beautiful seven- or nine-pointed stars will twinkle in the photographs, beautifully decorating the picture.

Increasing the distance from the background to the subject

This indicator affects the depth of shooting, due to which the blur will look as harmonious and aesthetically pleasing as possible. Killing the background, turning it into a studio photo in a spotty shot is not worth it, if the composition does not suggest it.

To achieve optimal blur and not texture background objects, you need to maintain a distance to it.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

If the model stands against the wall, then you will undoubtedly get a beautiful portrait, but with a demonstration of the bricks. To reduce the detail, it is necessary that it recede at least 1-2 m. The further it moves away, the more blurry the background will be. Try to move more, experiment with distance to find the most suitable options.

Shortening the distance from the subject to the background

Shooting to get good photos should be done in a room that is large enough for the subject to walk away and the photographer to get closer. After all, the closer the focus, the less detail the background objects will receive.

In this case, it is necessary to take into account the minimum focusing parameter that each technique has. When approaching the model, this indicator cannot be exceeded, otherwise the photo will turn out to be distorted, and far from the effect that it should be.

If there is no opportunity to change position or increase the distance, then you need to think about purchasing new photographic equipment with good RF. Such optics will make it possible to take high-quality portrait photos even in very limited space, which is important if there is a desire to work in a photo studio, where design solutions that are interesting for people are observed.

Choose objects with high light intensity

To achieve beautiful discs, flashlights or butterflies, you can choose to shoot with strong light sources that will be out of focus. This is best explained with an example. If you just shoot the foliage of a tree in cloudy weather, then in the photo with all settings you will get a branch in the center of the frame and a green blurred background. If sunlight penetrates through the leaves, then glare discs or other figures will play from behind, depending on the presence of filters.

The same tactics should be followed for night panoramas. They are some of the brightest, but with garlands or lights out of focus.

What are the difficulties when getting bokeh on a smartphone

In order to answer this question, you need to imagine,

how can this effect be achieved


  • Programmatically.
  • By changing the characteristics of the lens.

We will return to the first option later, but with the characteristics of the lens, it all comes down mainly to changing the focal length.

For this, it must be large enough – up to several hundred millimeters. However, in smartphone cameras, it usually hovers around 30mm, which makes telescopic photography very difficult.
To a certain extent, this problem can be solved by the dual-module camera, which has become a trend in flagship models since 2016. By now, many middle peasants have acquired it, but the quality of a photo with a blurred background in them does not reach the ideal.
As a rule, one of the camera modules is wide-angle and allows you to get a clear picture of the object itself, and the second removes the background, which is then blurred by software in the built-in graphics editor.
In any case, smartphones with a more or less powerful camera are almost always equipped with software that allows you to simulate shooting with lenses with different focal lengths and aperture sizes.

How does it work?

Until recently, this effect could only be obtained on a camera with expensive high-aperture optics. Now a software imitation of this technique has become available to users of smartphones with a dual camera. The optics of such devices allows the electronics to calculate an approximate depth of field map and apply the blur effect in accordance with it.

Of course, the simulation algorithms are somewhat inferior in realism to what serious photographic equipment gives, but for the overwhelming majority of the audience this does not really matter. In addition, in terms of the technique of performing the “two-chamber” bokeh, there are considerable successes. Until recently, dual cameras could not even really determine the boundaries of objects of irregular shape and ugly applied the effect, and now many dual-lens smartphones do a good job even with group objects, getting frames with almost no artifacts.

Of course, after all, not every modern smartphone with a dual camera, in principle, supports the bokeh effect, and if it does, it does not always implement it correctly. In some devices, the paired photo module is used only for zoom, in others – exclusively for expanding the dynamic range, and in budget devices, bokeh is often replaced by the tilt-shift special effect, which mercilessly blurs everything in the frame that seems worthy of blurring at least a little.

There are no problems with the Honor 8 Pro in this regard: it has two cameras originally designed to create a bokeh effect. The company has been polishing good software algorithms for many years – a working bokeh was implemented back in the Honor 6 Plus, which was released in 2014.

How to avoid beginner mistakes?

Many aspiring photographers try to get the largest aperture as possible, hoping that this will help create stronger blur.
Remember that the depth of field is the main factor that affects the size of the bokeh. And aperture is just one component of depth of field (remember the example of a hand that, when you get closer to your face, will blur the background).
The further you can place the light source from the focus area, the more blur you can get.
Also, keep in mind that a shallow depth of field does not necessarily mean a better photo.
Sometimes, using a smaller aperture to preserve background details can help you get a more pleasing photo.
Your creative intentions should always influence the size of the bokeh.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

Let’s add specifics

The cheapest way to touch the correct bokeh is with portrait lenses – their main purpose, as the name suggests, is for portraits.

For example, the usual 50 F2 and the like, but the very range of portrait lenses is from 35 to 135-200. For a high-quality image and high aperture ratio, they do not require special manufacturing precision, expensive materials or a complex lens shape. But this does not mean that the effect they will create is the same.

Older lenses often produce more complex bokeh, but the price to pay is that they are designed for film, which has limited transfer details.

Even on a cheap DSLR, you can blur the background with the kit lens 18-135. There will be good bokeh at the long end, but due to the squeezed perspective, the subject may appear separate from the background. It should be noted that not every room will have enough space and lighting for the low aperture ratio of such lenses.

But shooting a full-length portrait with bokeh is no longer a cheap task, even for amateur DSLRs, even despite the large matrix. But here you can cheat with the help of bokerama. This is done simply outrageously – the autofocus is turned off and the panorama is stitched. With some skill and a small number of shots, it can be taken even handheld, but ideally, it is desirable to have a tripod with a panoramic head. The resulting image can have bokeh that is physically unattainable by any lens, even in medium format.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

How is bokeh characterized?

So how is bokeh measured? This is a subjective term, but as a rule, the smoother and softer the background – and the more clearly any sharp edges, sharp edges or details are visible – the more pleasant the bokeh is considered. However, even if you have a very blurry background shot at f / 1.2, if areas out of focus are distracting or there are sharp edges around nice round balls, then bokeh will be considered unsuccessful.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

So something like ” creamy bokeh ” is good because the background is creamy, dreamy and velvety smooth. Something like ” noisy bokeh ” is bad because the background is harsh and distracting and distracts attention from your subject. There are other types, defined by different characteristics, such as “onion ring bokeh”, “soap bubble bokeh” and “cat’s eye bokeh”, which may or may not be desirable depending on personal preference.

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

An example of a noisy side

Of course, it’s not just a background that might be out of focus; foreground elements may also be out of focus, so bokeh also describes foreground blur. In most cases, though, when discussing bokeh, we’re talking about the pleasantness of blurring in the background of an image.

Blur software applications

Bokeh from any side - how to apply blurred background effect in mobile photography. Bokeh effect on any smartphone

If necessary, you can achieve the bokeh effect on an already taken picture, another thing is that this will require the installation of applications. Here are some of them that can be downloaded from Google Play for Android devices or from the AppStore for Apple gadgets:

  • Snapspeed.
  • Point Blur.
  • AfterFocus.
  • Tadaa SLR.

The functionality of each of them differs significantly from their counterparts, but they all allow you to adjust the strength of the blur and scale the image.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that to get a really beautiful bokeh effect, you need to experiment for some time with both the camera settings and the composition of the picture: the location of the light sources, the distance from the subject to the background details, and even the color scheme of the lighting.
In addition, one should not forget that a smartphone will in any case lose to a professional camera, and even if the result is far from ideal, you should not be upset.

Sources used and useful links on the topic: -ego-dostich.html na-lyubom-smartfone-3075p.html takoe-effekt-boke-na-smartfone-i-kak-ego-dobitsya.html

Post source: